Thursday, September 28, 2006

Father Figures

Much of what I put in my analysis of the first half of the book dealt with the role of the father figures in the stories. Although most of the book is comprised of the relationships between Haitian women, there is always a subtle commentary on the importance of a father figure. Aside from 1937, which did not have a father figure, the first half of the novel had several perspectives.
Children of the Sea deals with two lovers, one of which is a teenage girl who has had many problems with her father. In the beginning, he is shown as the family tyrant who deals with his inadequecies by putting down his children. We see this character develop by the end of the story when he saves Josephine and softens up as a result. Josephine, in her constant mentioning of her father, shows that she needs a paternal figure there to guide her. At the end of the story, our view of Josephine's father evolves into a more sympathetic one.
A Wall of Fire Rising deals more directly with the role of a father figure. Here, Guy simply abandons his family for a chance to live his dream of flying a hot air balloon. Despite the fact that his actions are looked down upon, Danticat still manages to victimize Guy through Little Guy's speeches.
Finally, Nightwomen depicts a mother and son who yearn for the return of their husband/father. He is sorely needed both for the son who is at that crucial young, innocent age and the wife who seems to be trying to fill the gap left behind by the lover that gave her her son.
Overall, I believe this book (so far) tells us an incredible amount about Danticat's view of the father figure. The father is desperately needed to make sense of the tumultuous culture of Haiti at the time. The father is also desperately needed by his children for guidance and love, and by their wives, who need a strong spirit to feed of of. Despite the negative context in which each of these three fathers are portrayed, they still warrant sympathy from the reader.